William Kosman - Artiste Peintre

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

#54 - Serendipity While Painting Sketch

                                               A Carriage on Pine Street (final painting)                          

                                             A Carriage on Pine Street (oil sketch)

Fellow Art Lovers:

A funny thing happened during a walk in the bitter cold the other day.

As you may know, we’ve been having some frigid weather in Philadelphia. I was walking on Pine Street from 4th toward 3rd – looking for a scene to sketch in pen and ink, which I would then use to paint. Despite the cold, it was a beautiful day, with freshness in the air, and the sky was bright and blue even. Overhead was a canopy of bare trees, and in front of me was a luminous break where Pine Street ended at the at the Front Street park.  

I took out my little portable seat, found a spot between two parked cars, and sat down to record the scene with my favorite sketching pen. But no, the breeze was soft, but it sure was cold. I’m willing to sacrifice for my art, but how can you sketch when your hand is turning numb?  

I like to sketch because it lets me transmit some emotion onto the paper and show myself how a painting might look. It’s like the first step in painting, before ever touching brush to canvas. But when Mother Nature is not on your side, it doesn’t do any good to fight. So, another alternative is a camera, which I took out and started choosing shots and taking them.  

I took a series of shots, but nothing thrilled me. Too many cars, buses blocking the view I wanted to capture, no real center of interest. Then, just as I was about to leave, I saw a white horse-drawn carriage, and even though I didn’t know what shots I was taking, but I snapped a few before the carriage moved away. That evening, I looked at the shots I had taken on my Mac, and one shot of the carriage was really charming, just really nice. 

Some time later in my studio, I started a small sketch in oil, and before the oil sketch was completed, I felt an urge to paint a relatively large canvas of the scene. Well, I started it, starting to lay out the different elements of the scene, and then I realized something: The oil sketch was of the entire scene, but the real heart of the scene was actually only the left side of what I had photographed and painted in the oil sketch.

I’m showing you both of the paintings so you can judge for yourself. (In a rough way, I completed the sketch.) But I feel the large version, the real painting, shows all of the elements needed for a charming painting, and the composition is so much better. In truth, the right side of the scene – in my view – adds very little to the painting, and is not needed at all.

So, the oil sketch truly served its purpose, even though I couldn’t do a real pen-and-ink sketch in the cold.

As always, I’d love to hear your ideas.

Thanks for listening.